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We all know the current situation. Mac computers continue to gain market share against Windows PCs, the iPod has no serious rivals in the MP3 market, the iPhone is dominating the smart phone sector and now the iPad is devastating sales of high-end netbooks. So the question keeps being asked what will Apple focus on next?

Apple’s new direction

Well, one of the single biggest indicators of the electronics giant’s next target market appeared in June without much of a fanfare. Far from letting the unique Mac Mini simply disappear, as many channel commentators were predicting, Apple has totally upgraded this extraordinary little computer, releasing a new, smaller, slimmer and higher-spec version.

Why is this significant? Because the new Mac Mini has an HDMI port. True, it’s not the first Apple device to have HDMI; back in 2007, Apple TV was launched as the first true ‘media streaming’ device for watching media content stored on Apple (and Windows) computers for
viewing on large-screen HD TV systems.

DIGITAL HOME

But Apple TV isn’t a full Mac computer, and it has always struggled to be recognised for its true advantages in the digital home. Almost three years after its launch, the device hasn’t changed much.

Meanwhile, HDMI has become a common sight fitted on many, possibly most Windows machines. But Apple has so far avoided building HDMI into any of its computers except the latest Mac Mini.

You can add HDMI to a MacPro with a BlackMagic PCIe card, but MacBook Pro users have no compatible add-on card available that offers this interface, the iMac has no expansion capabilities.

THE RUMOUR MILL

Now that the Mac Mini has HDMI, users can plug it into their HD television instead of using a computer monitor, connect a Bluetooth or other wireless keyboard and mouse to drive it, and Apple TV is redundant. The Mac Mini does everything that Apple TV can do, but also offers all the full-blown computer functionality on the same big screen from the comfort of your sitting room sofa.

And if the growing rumours are true, Apple is working with a couple of the major LCD/LED screen manufacturers on launching a range of Apple-branded large-screen displays, which will no doubt have some very unique Appleesque functions and functionality like direct iTunes Store access from your TV.

So it certainly looks like your sitting room home entertainment technology is moving into Apple’s huge marketing sights, and resellers will have a major new market to work with.

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